Shen Build Guide by Teh Hoff Man

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Teh Hoff Man

Shen: The Tank in the Shadows

Teh Hoff Man Last updated on July 8, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Hello? Sorry, the bar's closing for the night. You'll have to come back tomorr... oh! You're here about the Guide? Of course, right this way. Just go on through the back. I'm not used to doing this kind of thing, this is the first guide I've made after all. Well, in any case, I hope you find it helpful. If you can master Shen, either with this guide or another one completely, it would certainly help to restore equilibrium!

(Also, a big thanks to JhoiJhoi's Making A Guide for helping with some ideas and formatting!)

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Pros / Cons

Like any champion, Shen obviously has his own strengths and weaknesses.


+ Excellent tank
+ Built-in CC and escape with Shadow Dash
+ Great initiator in team fights
+ Feint can absorb those pesky Ignites
+ Stand United can change the tide and save lives
+ He's a Flippin' Ninja

- Low damage output
- Little farming ability
- As the tank, you WILL die
- Have to keep an eye on team health for Stand United
- Expensive item builds

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Greater Mark of Armor

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Health

I personally prefer going with flat defense with my Marks, Seals, and Glyphs. The much larger boosts these offer early-game help to keep you alive in lane, and while they may fizzle out late-game you will have your item build to take over the job. Also, the HP bonus from the Greater Quintessence of Health will effectively give you an additional 10% starting health with your Ruby Crystal at level 1.

However, as with everything else LoL, there are many alternatives, and you should experiment to find ones that fit you:
  • If you like scaling Runes better than flats, then feel free to put in Greater Quintessence of Vitality, Greater Seal of Defense, or other such Runes
  • Health not regenerating fast enough for you liking? Going with the Regeneration family of Runes will keep up with your growing health throughout the game
  • A group that I personally do not go into are +Energy or Energy regen. However, if you find yourself spamming your abilities a bit too much and running out of Energy to make your escape, feel free to tamper with those a bit.

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Summoner Spells


As almost anybody in the League will tell you, Flash is a must-have spell. It has many uses, from escaping from that Finales Funkeln that Lux is shooting at you, to jumping over that wall to kill the guy camping the other side, to chasing down the guy running away with only 3HP left. Whatever the situation, if you can master Flash you have that much more chance of victory.

Being a tank, your job is to keep everybody on your team alive long enough for them to destroy the enemy team. There's no better way to do that than to have a Heal sitting around for when either you or your Carry needs a bit of a boost. Because the amount healed scales with your level, it will always be a nice extra bonus for when those team fights are getting down to the wire.

Other Options

There is nothing more frustrating than being hit by an Ignite right before you kill your enemy and watching your health drain away. Similarly, there's nothing more enjoyable than getting that kill from the grave that this will also provide. Whenever you need a few hundred more damage in order to finish off your foe, an Ignite is always a great way to do it. Also, if you're going to be going up against a Dr. Mundo, Vladimir, or other health regen Champs, this is an easy way to severely cut them down a notch.

Another versatile spell for a variety of situations is Exhaust. Being able to both slow an enemy Champion as well as reduce their damage output can make it all that much easier to chase them down and kill, or to get away from them in a pinch.

Ghost is what I like to think of as the "poor man's Flash". Instead of instantly appearing at your target, you just run there a lot quicker. While Ghost is definitely preferable on a Champion like Hecarim, it's just another option to choose from here.

Do Not Touch

Simply said, you have no mana. If you feel like you need to regenerate some regardless, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Mundo and pick something else.

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As with any tank, I recommend a 0/21/9 Mastery setup. Instead of going over each Mastery individually, I'll be grouping them together by category.

As a tank, every little bit of health counts. Durability and Veteran's Scars alone give 138 additional HP at level 18, and Juggernaut increases your total health by 3%. This may not seem like much of a difference, but I can't tell you how many team fights I've seen where people get out with just that much health left.

Now that you've gotten all that health, it's time to make sure they can't take it away in the blink of an eye. How can you do that? Armor and Magic Resist of course! By taking Resistance and Hardiness , that's right off the bat an extra 6 Armor and MR. Also, Tough Skin , Indomitable , and Honor Guard reduce the damage you take OF ANY TYPE. That includes True Damage, which is something that your Armor and MR are useless against.

Add those on top of your Runes, and they won't be chunking your health any time soon.

This group is the "Everything Else" category, but it's all still stuff that's perfect for your role as tank.

First off, Summoner's Resolve and Summoner's Insight are great compliments to using Heal and Flash for your Summoner Spells. By increasing the amount healed, you can stick around more in lane, and in case that doesn't work the reduced cooldown will mean that you're ready to Flash out of there.

Juggernaut needs another mention in this section, because of its second feature: reduce all incoming disables by 10%. Combined with the 35% of Mercury's Treads, the other team will be hard pressed to keep you CC'd, letting you do your job keeping your carries alive.

Bladed Armor helps with your farming, which you need all the help you can get. As long as you're going to get hit by those minions, why not hit back without having to do anything?

Expanded Mind is a great bonus for Shen, giving an additional 10 Energy from the start. That little bit of extra oomph may be just what you need to get the kill... or avoid being the victim yourself. Speaking of that extra oomph, Runic Affinity is in my opinion a must-have for any Champion in the game. Even if you're not grabbing Red Buff in the Jungle, odds are you'll be paying Baron a visit every once in a while. Using this will make it so his help stays around just that much longer.

But, if all else fails, your two feet might be your only way out of a tight situation. And what better way to get out than with a little speed boost from Swiftness ? 2% may not be much, but combined with your Shadow Dash it'll be enough to keep you out of harm's way.

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Ability Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

Ki Strike (Passive): Your passive gives you an extra boost of damage every 9 seconds. The higher your bonus health, the more damage it does. This makes Ki Strike a perfect passive for a tank, taking advantage of your biggest strength (massive health) and using it to fix your greatest weakness (low damage output). The 9 second cooldown is lowered by 1.5 seconds for each auto attack that Shen performs, meaning that in a combat situation you can be using your passive about every 3-4 seconds.

Vorpal Blade (Q): This is your main source of damage early game, and your main harassment ability. In addition to the damage output, it also marks the enemy and provides a health source for you and your team. Because each hit on the marked enemy will restore a flat amount plus 1.5% of your max health, it can give you and your team a burst of health in the middle of a team fight.

If you are using Vorpal Blade while farming, you should target siege minions, and focus your attacks on it. You'll be sacrificing a few kills, but you'll have many more health-restoring attacks on the siege minion. Doing this will keep your health up giving you more time in lane, and giving you more farm in the long run.

Feint (W): An excellent ability for a tank, Feint gives you a shield that protects you from all types of damage for a few seconds. Once fully leveled, it will give you a shield that absorbs 250 damage, which can mean the difference in a fight. Also, while active, Feint makes it so your Ki Strike refreshes twice as fast on your auto attacks.

Shadow Dash (E): While Shadow Dash does have a damage aspect to it, the greatest part of it is the Taunt. As a tank, it is your job to make the enemy team want to hit you. Shen takes it one step further with Shadow Dash and FORCES them to hit him. This ability in my opinion makes Shen the best tank in the game. By making the enemy team attack you, they cannot spend that time attacking your carries. Who, in the mean time, are attacking the enemy team. Depending on how fed your AD carry is, the 1.5 seconds the enemy is taunted for can easily translate to 500-1000 damage from your carry.

Later in this guide there will be a section dedicated to Shadow Dash, as it is the most important skill Shen has.

Stand United (R/Ultimate): As cheesy as it sounds, this is the Ultimate Ult for a tank Champion to have. Other tanks have skills that help them to damage the enemy, or hold them in place. But, none of them have Ults designed to save their teammates. Stand United puts a shield onto a friendly Champion that absorbs a good amount of damage for 5 seconds. As annoying as that shield will be for your enemies to deal with, 3 seconds after activating Stand United they'll also have a nice big Shen to take care of them.

It also ensures that your team will not have a team fight without you. If you're top lane, and your team gets ambushed down bot, you can't walk there nearly fast enough. But if you Ult in, you're there in 3 seconds.

When deciding when to drop your Ult on a Champion in the middle of a fight, it is always better to err on the early side instead of later. If your ally dies, your teleport will be cancelled, as well as... you know... having a dead ally on your hands.

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Item Builds for (Almost) Any Situation

You probably have noticed that at the top of this guide, I have only put in enough items to fill your first four item slots. Why is that? Because the rest of your build depends on the other team's strengths and your own weaknesses. Before we get into the specifics, let's take a look at the core build:

Game Start

The Ruby Crystal is the only item that I consider when starting a game. The bonus health that you get right off the bat helps not only to keep you alive, but also makes it so your Ki Strike does an additional 18 damage. This will help your farm, and when you're going against squishies with ~450 health that 18 can add up pretty quickly.
First Trip Back

Your priotity on your first trip back should be your Heart of Gold. Because your farming capabilities are low, the extra 5 per 10 gold will be your best friend in getting built. At the same time, if you can afford them go ahead and get your Boots of Speed.
Early-Mid Game

In my mind, there is no other choice of boots for Shen. By choosing Mercury's Treads you not only get a boost of Magic Resist, but also get Tenacity to reduce those nasty Stuns, Slows, Taunts (who on Earth would use Taunt?), and Snares by a whopping 35%.

While you should prioritize your Giant's Belt, it's once you get your full Sunfire Cape that you start to become more of a threat. One of the items that I recommend on ANY tank, the Health and Armor that it gives is great for your first "real" item. Plus, the 40 damage that it dishes out per second is absolutely invaluable for both your farm and your scrapes with the enemy Champions.
Mid Game

A tank with Health-based bonuses that doesn't use Warmog's Armor is a poor excuse for a tank. There's nothing about it that doesn't spell good things for Shen. The massive Health bonus and increased Health Regen grow over time, so once you get your Warmog's you'll be getting stronger without any extra effort.

But you may be asking yourself, "Now what?" The answer to that question depends on the current game situation. You'll need to make the call for your specific circumstances, but below are some different options for a few general situations.
AP Heavy Enemy

With any AP heavy enemy team, you'll want to build yourself some Magic Resistance. My personal favorite is to use Force of Nature for its huge Health Regen bonus. With your build already giving you a bunch of health, you'll be healing for 100+ per 5 easily with Force of Nature alone.

Aegis of the Legion is another option for your Magic Resist needs, as it gives your team a boost to Armor, MR, and damage when you're nearby. However, it is not nearly as effective with Magic Resist as your Force of Nature, so they can't really substitute for each other.
AD Heavy Enemy

The bane of many an AD Carry, Thornmail is the most powerful item to counter an AD Champion. 100 Armor, plus returning 30% of damage received BEFORE ARMOR. That means that you're returning hundreds of damage per hit on a built Master Yi or Tryndamere, something that they won't realize until they're already dead. I can't count the number of times I've sat there and let Master Yi commit suicide with his own Ult, but it is one of the most fun things to watch.

An added bonus is when you're using your Shadow Dash: When they're taunted, they're forced to hurt themselves on your Thornmail!
Enemy Focusing on You

When you walk into a team fight with that angelic aura around you, all the other team can do is hope and pray for their own Guardian Angel to come and save them. Unfortunately for them, that isn't going to happen. Giving yourself another 68 Armor and 38 Magic Resist will keep you alive that much longer. But once they finally do manage to take you down...

You're not dead yet.

Late Game

With your fifth item being dictated by the situation, your sixth item can many times be another Warmog's Armor. With two fully stacked Warmog's Armor, you will have over 5k health and be almost unstoppable.

And what better way to utilize that 5k+ health than replacing your Heart of Gold with Atma's Impaler? You get another chunk of Armor, and are able to deal much more damage with the same item. 5k Health translates to 75AD, plus the 18% crit chance will have you hitting for up to 300 on base attacks and 600 on your Ki Strike.

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Shadow Dash: Your Greatest Tool

Shadow Dash is the Make or Break skill for being a good Shen. But not only do you need to learn how to use it in combat, you also need to use it for taking shortcuts. In this section we'll take a look at both.


Your Shadow Dash is the ultimate initiation skill. You are able to not only close the gap, but also distract the enemy champions long enough for your team to get into the fray.

However, team fights are only one time for using your Shadow Dash on the offensive. In-lane harassment, ganking for other lanes, or even turret diving. You can also use it on defense, trapping the enemy champions under your own turret to have a big gun helping you kill them.

Also, don't hesitate to use your Shadow Dash to help your Carry escape from the Champions chasing him. Even if you end up dying, you end up keeping them alive 9 times out of 10. As a tank, that of course is your job. I can't really stress that enough, so I'll say it again. "Keeping your Carry alive is your job."

Short Cuts

Let me set the scene for you:

A team fight gone wrong, and the enemy Jax is the sole survivor. He turns a corner and can see freedom only a few yards away. All of a sudden, a shadow moves near him. Flying over the wall next to him is none other than Shen. Swinging his lamppost out of anger, Shen's Feint causes Jax to watch helplessly as the ninja finishes the job.

Ok, maybe a little too Hollywood for the average match, but nonetheless the moral is the same. If you can master Shadow Dash's shortcut ability you will be an absolute terror on the battlefield.

Wherever there is a red line, there is a wall that at one point or another I have personally Shadow Dashed through. Some are easier than others, but just like with Flash if you're close enough and skilled enough you can get over any of them.

Whether you use them to escape or to chase, or even just to save yourself a walk, these short cuts are invaluable. After all, you're a Flippin' Ninja and should have all the fun in the world terrorizing the enemy team with your Shadow Dash.

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Overall, Shen is a well-rounded tank who can turn the tide with his presence alone. If you can get skilled with him, you can be a solid part of any balanced breakfast team.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, feel free to leave them. I'll read through them all and respond where needed, as well as keep this guide updated regularly. Thanks for reading!